In 2019, Google contract workers, formally employed by HCL in Pittsburgh, won their union. Their victory electrified the tech labor movement. After almost 2 years at the bargaining table with HCL, they are moving to ratify a contract. The vote to ratify is planned for July 30th 2021.
Ben Gwin, one of the union organizers at HCL, told us about what they won in the contract: “We won wage increases, more PTO, more holidays, more transparent promotion policies, and other standard union protections like just cause provisions, Weingarten rights, and a minimum bargaining unit head count to keep jobs in Pittsburgh.”
With a trend of tech worker unions sweeping the industry and workers increasingly formalizing systems of solidarity, another contract in tech that codifies worker rights is a beacon for future worker progress. The workers at HCL have set a new bar for contractors and all workers across tech.
This is not the first union contract won by white collar tech workers. You might be aware of the historic Glitch contract that was won in March this year. But even before that, Microsoft contract workers succeeded in negotiating a contract with their direct employer, Lionbridge, back in 2014. Unfortunately, immediately after this victory, Lionbridge’s management laid off every union worker, making the contract completely useless and utterly destroying the union.
It took tech workers 7 years to recover from that blow and win another collective bargaining agreement for white collar contractors. This is a historic day for tech workers. Hopefully this win for labor in the tech industry won’t be stolen like it was 7 years ago.
Considering HCL has over 22 charges against them and management has been outsourcing roles to shrink the bargaining unit, it looks like these Google contractors might see history repeat itself. Over the coming months will we watch another “runaway shop” dismantle another tech contractor union?
Unlike the lost Lionbridge union of 2014, workers at HCL have a growing labor community in tech standing alongside them. Union organizers across the industry and workers fighting for a seat at the table are watching closely and ready to fight with our siblings.
Solidarity with HCL union workers!